The main headquarters for the Israelites had been in their camp at Gilgal since they had crossed the Jordan River several years earlier. Four of the tribes had received their inheritances and it was time to move on to another location. The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled at Shiloh. It was there that the tabernacle was erected and would remain for many more years.
Complacency seemed to have replaced urgency in settling the land. Joshua ordered the remaining seven tribes to select three men from each tribe and survey the remaining territory.
Following that survey, the seven other tribes, Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Dan received their inheritances. Joshua also received Timnath Serah, a city in the mountains of Ephraim for an inheritance. There was still work to be done—battles to be fought as they were to drive the inhabitants out of the land. Unfortunately for God’s people, they did not completely rid the land of its occupants and they caused much trouble in the future years.
A person who killed another whether accidentally or intentionally was subject to being killed by the avenger of blood, usually the next of kin of the victim. Six cities were appointed as cities of refuge for persons who had killed someone by accident. They could remain there in safety until the death of the high priest. After that they could return to their home.
Since the Levites consisted of priests and others involved with the daily activities of worship, they had not received a territory to call their own. Following the appointment of cities of refuge, a total of forty-eight other cities with adjoining land for their cattle were assigned to the tribe of Levi. These cities were allotted from each of the other tribes.
With the completion of their occupation of the Promised Land, the men of the tribes of Ruben, Gad and a half tribe of Manasseh returned to their settlements on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
As the departing tribes came to the Jordan, they stopped and built an elaborate altar. Worship to God was to be conducted at the tabernacle. Word of that seemingly rival altar reached the leaders of the western tribes and they armed themselves for war with their eastern brothers. However, before attacking, they sent a delegation of chief men to determine the purpose of the new altar.
Upon learning that the altar was merely a monument to their unity with the other tribes, the misunderstanding was cleared up and war was averted. Many times, things are not what they seem to be. Much heartache and hostility could be prevented if people would only seek out the facts of their misunderstandings.